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In two of these investigations, it was determined that individual dicers abused command prerogative in a manner smacking of coercive ractice, through the issuance of improper instructions contrary to Le spirit and intent of governing directives. These instructions were ammarily revoked, and the two officers involved were formally eprimanded.
Finally, only seven of the 50 referrals came after the 1967 savings ind campaign. The vast majority—86 percent-came before.
S. 1036 could make criminal acts out of errors of judgment, excesses i zeal, misunderstood communications, or misinterpreted actions or
stives. We believe it is precisely these categories of conduct, and . more, which have been involved. The Department of Defense does it consider criminal sanctions as enlightened, effective, or approprile measures for dealing with such cases. Administrative personnel etion is eminently more suitable, and the sharp drop in complaints jis year compared to last indicates that administrative action has en effective as well. The bill seeks to draw a fine line between management persuasion rd management coercion of Armed Forces members to buy bonds make contributions. The bill does no more than reflect existing kecutive branch policy on this score-but it attaches criminal penal
for breaches of the policy. We are convinced that creating a speic new crime in the context of demonstrably worthy programs—the couragement of bond purchases and the support of charities-is either necessary nor desirable. We already possess ample authority der the Uniform Code of Military Justice to prosecute those who late or fail to obey a lawful regulation or order. While the Department shares the desire to eliminate any practice hich smacks of coercion, compulsion, or the threat of reprisal to luce the participation of Armed Forces personnel in good and imrtant causes, we strongly oppose the imposition of criminal penalties the manner contemplated in S. 1036. We agree with a similar view pressed by the Chairman, U.S. Civil Service Commission, regarding 1035, a companion bill contemplating similar sanctions in the case civilians. We further believe that the existing legal machinery vided under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, our system of partmental regulations, and our administrative and management
tem and procedures, already supply all of the authority needed to pe with any problems in the area addressed by S. 1036. I shall be pleased at this time, Mr. Chairman, to answer any estions the committee may have. . Chairman Russell. I am sure Mr. Secretary, you see the difference
the applications of a provision of this kind and civil serviceiween civilian employees concerned and those in the military rvice. Mr. Fitt. Yes, sir. Chairman RUSSELL. There is a considerable difference in the matter employee unions and things of that kind in the civilian arm that fords all kinds of protections to civilian employee who can file implaints. I think there is a somewhat different situation as far as e military is concerned. A lance corporal or a buck private somehere is very slow indeed to bring any kind of formal complaint against captain or a colonel, and least of all a sergeant who is in command of
I don't think you can take too many precautions to avoid his bein coerced. I think he should be encouraged by every legitimate mean short of coercion as far as providing information. I think it is well t have it. You are dealing largely with people who are in an area wher there are mostly youths who have just come into the service, the haven't been there very long. They don't have much money, and the come to a conclusion they haven't any rights before they have serve the first year they are there. I don't think you could too strongl emphasize on the military side that as long as this is limited to infor mation it is all right, but when it comes to threats or implied threats it is wrong. I just don't know how to handle this matter.
I I am reluctant to pass legislation of this kind myself, because I an not too sure that will cure the evil that we are seeking to cure. If sergeant tightened up a little bit he won't say anything more abou the bonds but this fellow will find himself on disagreeable duty. It i difficult to get at, unless you let the word come down from above The sergeant understands that all right, that there shall not be an coercion, and it shall be limited to informing the man as to the advar tages of it, and indeed the obligations of citizenship to be considered but not as a threat.
I am somewhat in a dilemma on legislation of this kind. I know ther is a wrong there but it is difficult to find a way to right the wrong Senator Thurmond.
Senator THURMOND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
sai and you presented it quite well. You heard the statement by th Senator from North Carolina, however, you heard excerpts from letter that he received from various members. The present regulations ar not curing the thing that he is trying to correct, are they?
Mr. FITT. My impression, Senator, is that there has been a sub! stantial downtrend in the number of complaints. The figures I cite in the statement suggested that of the 50 referrals that we had re ceived in the last year, seven have been received since the 1967 cam paign which occurred in the spring of this year. The other 43 occurre or involved episodes occurring before that campaign, and I thin mainly growing out of the 1966 campaign.
Senator THURMOND. I don't think there is any question that it ha been gotten over to the officers in the armed services that thei leadership is going to be judged at least in part by the cooperatio they can get from the services in buying Government bonds, and i some cases in joining the United Fund or contributing to the Re Cross or some other charitable organization.
I guess there is a sharp line of demarcation there between coercio and a fine exhibition of leadership. On the other hand, this thing ha gone on, I know it has gone on. I have seen some of it myself. I hav seen it in the services, and I have had complaints about people in th services. The only thing I am concerned about is whether to make i unlawful for these commissioned officers—I believe it does cover thisor any member of the Armed Forces acting or purporting:
I think this extends higher than the armed services. I think it eve goes back to the executive branch of the Government at high levels and that is the only question in my mind, as to whether this bi should
go further back, because the officers in the armed services ar merely doing their duty as they see it, and they are trying to carr
out the wishes of their superiors. If they feel that their superiors want these bonds sold, they are going to try to get them sold. It is to their advantage as an officer to do it, in their efficiency reports. It is to their advantage to make an impression of being an outstanding leader who can command cooperation and get results.
I don't see any harm this bill could do, and I think it might do a great deal of good. I certainly don't want to see an imposition imposed on our officers. As I stated, this matter seems to me beyond them. I think it extends to civilians in the Defense Department and probably comes to them from the White House. Whether this bill is going to get the results we want, we don't know. We will just have to try if it is passed and find out. It may be necessary to broaden it to cover not only the officers in the armed services but to cover anyone who uses any coercion on down the line, which in turn will result in coercion on the man in service.
I can see your view, and I am sure you are doing all you can in the matter. On the other hand, there is an evil here that in some way ought to be corrected. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
, Chairman RUSSELL. Senator Stennis.
Senator STENNIS. Mr. Chairman, I have already given a word of caution here, to by all means avoid giving the impression to the country as a whole that we are discouraging in any way the buying of bonds. Maybe there should be a little competition between units, but if we are going to pass such a bill, I don't think we ought to limit it to the commissioned officer or those under him, because the truth is it is coming from other sources perhaps. That is another problem. I know it is abused some. I don't think they ought to be coerced. I know a lot of boys have told me, I don't know why I have missed all these other reports which I am sure are true about the abuse, but I have been told—one of the best things that happened to them is that they were encouraged to save while they were in the service through these bonds. They had a nestegg when they got home. I don't have any other facts. That is all.
Senator Ervin. You recognize that most people in the military are afraid to report things? You realize, Mr. Secretary, that a private is not going to complain about demands made upon him by the sergeant, don't you?
Mr. Fitt. I think I would say there is some of this feeling, Senator, but I wouldn't say most servicemen are afraid to complain. They have a regular basis for making complaints. By and large I believe that our servicemen are dealt with fairly and properly.
Senator ERVIN. As a matter of fact, about the only kind of complaints that you can investigate are those where the man is willing give his name and take whatever cɔnsequences may be visited upon him by his superiors for his protest, isn't that so?
Mr. FITT. No, sir.
I believe that most of the cases that arise involve the content of some mimeographed sheet issued at a base in conjunction with the charitable giving campaign. That sort of material can be sent in without fear on the part of the person who sends it in that he will be in any difficulty.
Senator ERVIN. That can be sent in, but when the statements are oral in nature, they cannot be checked, can they?
Mr. Fitt. Well, that is true, sir.
Senator Ervin. Do you not know, Mr. Secretary, that the average private soldier is not going to make a protest to the Department of the Army or to the Department of Defense about practices imposed upon him in these bond-buying drives and charitable contribution drives?
Mr. Fitt. I think the average soldier is not going to do that, sir, and for the reason that he has no basis for doing it. There are mistakes made. There are overzealous superiors and there are demonstrations of bad judgment from time to time. I think we have an obligation to make the policy loud and clear as Senator Russell indicated we whould, and we have done that. We have got to be eternally vigilant on this score and keep it up, because there will no doubt continue to be isolated cases of overzealousless on the part of commanders or occasional regrettable mistakes in judgment.
Senator Ervin. Do you recall getting a letter from me about a retired major that was under the military out in California, a retired major from Asheville, N.C., who gave me permission to use his name. He said that he currently was working under a certain colonel. He told his colonel that because of the situation in his family he was unable to buy the amount of bonds they wanted him to buy. The colonel told him he had better buy the bonds. When he refused, the colonel posted these notices all over the bulletin boards in that area that the bond drive would be a hundred percent success if it has not been for this retired major and certain other persons.
Mr. FITT. Sir, that occurred before I became Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, but I am in general familiar with the case. It was a reprehensible situation and the person who was responsible was reprimanded.
Senator Ervin. I would like to call your attention to a letter I received on September 4, 1967, from a chaplain in the U.S. Army. This is just this past month.
I was very happy to learn several months ago you were trying to pass a bill which would make it a criminal offense subject to court martial for a military commander to coerce a subordinate into donating money to any cause not prescribed by law. I want to tell you that there is very great need for such a law. I think that the proposed law should also include compulsory membership in private organizations such as association in the U. S. Army Officer and NCO CĪubs.
Just today NCOs were telling me that membership in these organizations is a requirement for promotion. The people who need this protection most are the new | draftees and young lieutenants. Let no one tell you that the cases offered as proof of this abuse are isolated. Do not let the DOD tell you that it will handle the problem without further legislation. They will not do it. The evil will be reduced for a while, but after congressional concern and clamor dies down, there will be a return to the old custom of making everyone join and everyone donate or buy. Indeed, the higher ranks are the worst offenders.
Let no one tell you that the motive is to teach the soldier to save or to assure him good association. The motive is very clear. The motive is to advance the career of the commanders in the eyes of the senior commanders. Every commander has to have a 100 percent participation and it is difficult for the soldier to get | through the pay line without being robbed. Interrogate the next soldier you meet. Visit a company pay line at one of the Washington area posts next pay day. Do not let anyone tell you you are coming. I tell soldiers that under our law they have no obligation to donate, buy, or join, and they have no obligation to explain to any officer of the United States Government their refusal. I think all collectors, vendors and recruiters should be kept far from the pay line.
This abuse is widespread in the Armed Forces. It is pushed by the higher ranks. It is resented by the vast majority of Service men, but very few are in a good position to fight it because they all want to get along with their bosses. They all want promotions and good efficiency reports. So they submit to the injustice. The morale and the career of their bosses is thereby improved.
I have remonstrated about this with my division commander and brigade commander. I do not want you to investigate anyone. I do not want anyone to be punished. I just want you to pass the bill.
I would prefer that you do not write to my military commanders. This wastes too much time, and besides, the ones who are guilty of this have been changed. I want the practice stopped, and passing the bill might do it.
Now, do you not know the complaints have been made that officers are given derogatory efficiency reports on some occasions because they do not participate in these bond drives?
Mr. Fitt. I do not know that, sir.
Mr. Fitt. I do not believe that that is proper material for inclusion in an officer's efficiency report.
Senator ERVIN. I agree with you, but have you not had officers complaining to the armed services that they are threatened with derogatory efficiency reports if they do not participate in these drives and get high participation from their men?
Mr. Fitt. Senator, may I, bearing in mind that I have been in this position for only 2 months, consult a moment with my staff?
I am advised that to the best of our recollection in none of the approximately 50 cases referred to OSD that I mentioned in my statement, Senator, was that kind of complaint raised.
Senator Ervin. I have many complaints to that effect. And, of course, the officers are like the chaplain. They do not want me to report to their commanders what they say. Now, here is a letter I received from a mother about her son: My son is receiving about $90 per month before taxes taken out, plus paying for his GI insurance, plus $10 a month to College Life Insurance Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, which insurance program he has had since the beginning |of his senior year in college and felt he had too much invested in it to stop it, plus he pays $20 å month on his loan to the church plus $20 a month on his loan to the university
I will leave out that nameSo, sir, you see by the time they take out the $6 a month that his sergeant made him sign up for bonds leaves him practically nothing. I certainly would sign my name to this letter if I did not think that in some way it might get into the hands of some military official and could jeopardize my son's career in the Army.
Mr. Fitt. Senator, I can understand that sort of letter, but it seems to me it really provides no basis for reaching any conclusion. The boy is the one who has to make the judgment about whether he wishes this deduction made from his pay.
Senator ERVIN. Do you not realize that sometimes the boys will tell the families that but will not make the protest themselves because, like Brigadier General Buck told me, they are sort of scared of the sergeant.
Mr. Fitt. I understand that, sir, but it is not clear from the letter you quoted whether it is the mother's judgment or the boy's judgment that is involved.
Senator Ervin. This letter from the chaplain came in last month, and my committee is still receiving complaints by the score. I am like the chaplain. With all due respect, I have been contacting the Defense Department about these things over a period of several years, and it keeps going on, and I keep getting complaints.